J. Michael Hagopian

Hagopian was born to an Armenian family on 20 October 1913, in KharpertMamuret-ul-Aziz VilayetOttoman Empire. In summer of 1915, when the Ottoman soldiers rampaged through Kharpert, Michael’s mother hid her child in a mulberry bush and prayed that the soldiers would not find him. Both escaped, and moved to Fresno, California. Hagopian received an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and after receiving a doctorate in international relations from Harvard University, he went into cinema and founded the Atlantis Films Company, which produced over fifty documentary films on ethnic minorities and foreign lands. He won critical acclaim, including two Emmy nominations for his film The Forgotten Genocide, the first full-length feature on the Armenian Genocide. The film encompassed twenty years of research and nearly 400 witness interviews.


In 1979, Hagopian founded the non-profit Armenian Film Foundation dedicated to preserving the visual and personal histories of the witnesses to the Armenian Genocide.


The pre-release version of Hagopian’s 58-minute documentary “The River Ran Red” opened the Eighth Annual Arpa International Film Festival on Oct. 24, 2008 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood,California, four days after Hagopian’s 95th birthday.